A picture’s worth a thousand words… but 10 pictures are a waste of time.  Now that Facebook® has taken over the world, when it comes to online dating profiles, people often confuse the concept of posting just a few flattering pictures with posting a whole album.  I have no doubt that your pictures from your trip to Greece with you standing on the Acropolis are amazing… just remember, there’s a time and a place for them, and that place is not JDate®.

When choosing which photos to put in your online dating profile, use these five rules of thumb:

  1. Less is more

JDate allows 12 pictures, and some other sites allow a whopping 26!  When I used JDate in the olden days (aka before the recent format change), only four pictures were allowed.  I believe this was for the better.  Let’s say I have eight photos of myself on JDate.  In four of them, I look really cute; in two, I look just ok; and in the remaining two, for one reason or another, I just don’t look as good.  My potential suitor may think I’m the gal for him based on the first couple of pictures alone, but by the time he gets to #8, he’s already dismissed me, thinking that those two bad pictures reflect what I actually look like.

Two great photos win over four or more mediocre photos any day.  People will look for the one bad one and decide not to e-mail you because of it.

  1. Have at least one clear “face” photo

If you don’t have at least one clear face photo as your main profile picture, your profile will scream, “Hiding something!” or “What – this person can’t even have a friend snap a good picture?”  You really don’t want someone not to click on you because he or she can’t see what you look like.

Blurry photos don’t help anyone, and they do hurt you.

  1. Be by yourself in the shot

A client recently told me that someone e-mailed her on a dating site asking if he could have her friend’s information.  She was confused for a moment and then realized that he had looked at her pictures, one of which included some friends, and concluded that her friend would be the woman of his dreams.

You’re already being compared to others on the site, so do not give someone the chance to compare you to the other people in your own profile.  If you’re trying to show that you have friends or are social, just say so.

Two caveats: Children – only if they are your own, and pets – but again, don’t borrow Fido from your neighbor.  The children/pet rule can backfire if they are not yours.  For example, for a woman in her 30s, a picture of a child makes it look like she wants kids ASAP.

  1. Have one photo where you are doing something interesting

I had a photo of myself singing the National Anthem in my online dating profile.  I got daily e-mails asking where I was singing and how I got the gig.  It gave people the “in” they needed to strike up a conversation.

Many people have no idea what to say in the initial e-mail, so give them something easy to comment about.

  1. Be accurate

I once went on a date with a guy who was at least 50 pounds heavier than his photos and profile had indicated.  When I met him, it wasn’t his appearance I disliked; I hated that he had lied to me.

It’s better to have someone meet you in person and think, “He/she is much better-looking than the photos,” not, “Wow – those photos were a lie… or taken five years ago!”

And the biggest photo myth: Professional photos are frowned upon.  Wrong!  If you look good, no one will care who took the pictures or whether you paid for them.  They’ll just be happy they found someone as good-looking as you are.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people find success in online dating and gets them excited about its possibilites. Her services include: writing unique online dating profiles to get you noticed, helping to choose your best profile pictures, writing one-of-a-kind e-mails to get someone’s attention, and planning dates.
  1. Thank you! Especially for number 3. I’m sure you have a lovely family and children but I’m not quite interested in seeing images of them as I am of you as a potential date or mate. At least not yet. Also, I love dogs, but I’m not interested in seeing pookie, spot or goliath snuggle up with you. And yes, last but not least, having friends and co-workers in your profile pics is confusing. Why is it that most of the time I wish that the profile belonged to someone else in the picture!!!

  2. While I agree with most of your points, “accuracy” is relative. For example, my face shots are perfectly honest, however, I don’t have friends or vanity enough to ask to have my picture taken, so I couldn’t take full body pictures for a long time until I got a remote control recently. My face suggests I’m skinny but I’m far from it, yet I did enter overweight and “Rubenesque” in my info. I expect people read that and believe it no matter what my face shots – a face says nothing about actual body weight, and whoever thinks so, is ignorant – may suggest. If I enter 175cm and 95 kg, then I expect people to assume some part of my body is way wider than my face.
    I refuse to be considerate of ignorant, rash, judgmental or otherwise thoughtlessly operating people. I’m looking for a man to have children with, so mental shortcomings that may be hereditary, are disqualifying anyways… Is it too much to ask of people to read AND understand info, rather than just look at pretty pictures? Do I have to do all the thinking for them? If someone doesn’t go through the trouble of reading every letter on my profile before contacting me, how do I know they will bother to get to know me later? I scoff at people who believe liking someone’s face or smile is enough and they needn’t know any more than that. I met people who decided my pretty face makes me the right woman for them, and then they felt all bummed because oh gee, I’m an avid supporter of Operation Cast Lead whereas they are bleeding heart leftists. See, reading really helps.

    I know some people, men especially, look at pretty pictures and forget to read the text that’s written all over the profile, but is that really my problem? I don’t think I’m being dishonest by posting flattering pictures as long as I do state my body type. If someone doesn’t know what “rubenesque” means, again, they missed out on education and that should not be my problem.

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